Off the Coast, Maine's International Poetry Journal

WINTER 2009 Poems
"Thinking Inside the Box"



Sitting in Cornell's Box

Do you know about Cornell's boxes?
They always look so cozy. I have built
a large one for myself. and here I sit
with my comforting surroundings.
the chart that shows the colorful
internal organs of a Golden retriever.
a parrot with reading glasses, a row of
antique dolls jammed into a
hollowed out TV set. I have duck wings
over my arms and I am imagining gears
to a strange machine that floats in my head.
Crocodiles with wheels for legs are
murmuring and rolling underneath
my huge blue chair that somehow seems
too large for the space. My heart is pounding:
you can see the hammer poised over my chest.
which is really a large ticket for a bus ride
from Galveston to Miami Beach. People are
getting ready for the trip right now. buying gum
and magazines and hoping for a relaxing ride.
But I'm not even tempted. I'm happy just
Sitting here, living my simple life and thinking
inside the box.

—Ray Skjelbred, Lake Forest Park, WA


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Abenaki Morning Prayer

Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire

Each day I greet the people of the dawn.
Abenaki maidens lift the black sky,
Kwai-kwai, they whisper gently, as I yawn,

asking what new wonders this day will spawn.
I compose, in reverence, my reply:
each day I greet the people of the dawn,

with thanks for the sunrise lighting my lawn,
for this translucent glow, woli-woli.
Kwai-kwai, they whisper gently, as I yawn,

look now to the ridge to face the young fawn,
one quick glance and you'll see his white tail fly.
Each day I greet the people of the dawn,

as they share their visions, I, a mere pawn
of this elegant life, this gift to untie.
Kwai-kwai, they whisper gently, as I yawn.

Noiselessly, like the night, they have withdrawn.
This day provides a real present, I sigh.
Each day I greet the people of the dawn.
Kwai-kwai, they whisper gently, as I yawn.

—Dianalee Velie, Newbury, NH


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Mongoose

offstage, 2 Henry IV, Act IV, Scene 3

Father, you were so still, my heart stopped.
I was certain that the crown had killed you,
golden viper there among the bedclothes, swaddled
in ignorance by lords and warriors.
I picked it up, pricked my finger,
wished on blood that there was blood
yet moving through your body
from whence I came. I will beware its fangs,
mongoose myself, until I catch it from behind,
sneak up on the scepter and the throne
belike: asps and rattlers, all. They harry me.
Harry me home to my own self, coiled and hidden.
How is this Harry to be king? Mongoose myself.
It's time to turn the vermin out.

—Mary Agner, Somerville, MA


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Women Wear Aprons

There is knot and then bow,
lace under my fingers, stitching,
sometimes rough rickrack, and the
comfort of my palms placed
where they have often been,
familiar territory, a relieving,
the iron's hot smooth glide
seared in the weave. Stain of
blood and carrot juice, a nick,
burn, spittle and hope, and
many voices swelling the air:
smoke and curry and vanilla,
stewed cabbage, soap, whiskey
and old English tea boiled out
under the flame of living.

—Annaliese Jakimides, Bangor, ME


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Swivel

Anglo-Saxon folk swifan/swivel, revolving
with gusto. They swapen/swoop and turn
until they geswogen/swoon. Old Normans
like escroue/a hole and Middling English
screwe in full gleo a happy or a hapless hole.
Old Norsemen romp with Old Norsewomen,
turning rumpr/trunks as throughout Indo-E
people swiftly bend and sweip/swing gremb-.
Old Lithuanians know aistra/that estrus storm.
Old Germans rushen/rush on, and ancient
Romans go like hog on scrofa/scrobis/sow.
Old French ruit and roar in coveren/rut.
Where men hoveren, women whisperen,
whoopen, and sichen ahhhhh!
Swifan, geswogen, sweip, and gremb-.

—Patricia Lapidus, New Haven, CT


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Where Are You?

Where are you now,
here a moment ago
before you were spirited away
by a roving poem
moved by a muse
before your thoughts were lost
in the ether of inspiration

It's all right, I have patience
an ancient patience
given to women
when their men voyage away

—Helen Bar-Lev, Metulla, Israel


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